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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 19, 2013 10:00am-2:01pm EDT

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i know a little bit about the this because my new responsibility in the appropriations committee is the largest single bill. the bill that i worked on with senator cochran, republican of mississippi, is a bill that covers all of the defense department and all of the intelligence agencies. and i will tell you, it is the largest and a huge portion of our national discretionary budget, almost 60%. we're ready. we prepared the bill. we're going to bring this bill before the committee and the floor and have the debate it deserves so that our men and women in uniform are well served and we acquire the protections that are necessary for america. unfortunately the same group opposed to sitting down with the house republicans and finding a compromise have objected to taking up any spending bill on
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the floor of the senate. so where does that leave us? we have no budget, and we can't take up a single spending bill because of the objections from the other side of the aisle. they're being guided by a few members over there who are of a certain political faith that i can't even describe who believe that chaos is the best thing. i don't. i've been here for a little while. i found good, good-faith efforts by members on both sides of the aisle. many republican senators, conservative, yes, but sensible, are willing to sit down to try to find answers to these issues. that's the right thing. sadly, what's happened over in the house is hard to explain. i read press reports. there are about 40 of the house republicans who are so-called tea party republicans who insist on shutting down the government
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and insist as well on defaulting on our national debt. they happen to believe that that's a good way to push their position opposing health care reform, obamacare. they happen to believe that's the way to convince the american people that they're right. i think they're completely wrong. i never thought i would ever come to the floor of the united states senate to quote karl rove, but this morning's "wall street journal," for goodness sakes, he writes a long article to his fellow republicans saying wake up to reality. independent voters -- those who don't declare for either political party -- across america think that the tea party republican strategy is disastrous. and he warned the republican party, if you're not careful, you're going to push those independents over on the democratic side. far be it from me to not want to see that happen politically, but i certainly have to tell you that if it takes shutting down the government and shutting down
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the economy, i don't want it to happen. so what karl rove has said to his fellow republicans is look at the reality of what you are doing to this party. you are destroying this party for the next election. this morning's "wall street journal." i ask unanimous consent that that article be placed in the "congressional record" at the conclusion of my remarks. mr. president, most people don't even understand what a debt ceiling is. it's kind of hard for the average american to understand. let me try to put it in simple terms. we spend more money than we raise in taxes. when we do that, we have to borrow money. the good news is the amount each year is coming down dramatically so that our annual deficits are really reducing, or coming down. but when there is a difference, when you spend more than you have, you have to borrow it. and in order to borrow it, there needs to be an overall authorization of the government to borrow. it's called the debt ceiling.
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so as we, for example, fund our military and borrow, say, 40%, 30%, what it takes to fund our military, as we borrow that, we need an authorization to do it. now there comes a point where we've used up all our authority to borrow and we have to increase our authority to borrow. lift the debt ceiling to cover our new debt for money already spent, money spent by congress. so now we have a position being taken by some tea party republicans who may have voted for the spending but now do not want to vote for the borrowing. you can't have it both ways. what happens if we don't increase the debt ceiling? what it means is that for the first time in the history of the united states of america we will default on our national debt. first time. what does a default mean? families understand this and
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business understands this. if you don't pay your debts as you're supposed to, bad things can happen. foreclosure, legal proceedings. but at a minimum, it destroys your credibility as a borrower, as a creditor. and when your credibility as a borrower goes down, what happens? interest rates go up for you. now translate that to america. if we default on our debt, if we fail to raise the debt ceiling for the first time in the history of the united states, interest rates go up. the dollars paid by american taxpayers to build roads, educate children, defend the united states are diminished because we have to pay more and more for interest on the money that we borrow. can we avoid this? of course we can. this is a self-imposed problem, a problem that has been imposed by the tea party republicans on the congress and on the nation
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that is totally, totally unnecessary. let me say a word too about the underlying issue of obamacare. it's been almost a little over three years now since we passed obamacare. the supreme court took up the bill, found it constitutional. it's underway. certain provisions of this bill are already underway. and the goal of it, of course, is to deal with the cost of health care and the availability of health insurance in america. this is important to individuals and families and businesses. it's also important to our government. 60% of our national deficit, 60% of our national debt projected for the next five or ten years is associated with the cost of health care. we he buy a lot of health care as a federal government. medicare for the elderly and disabled. medicaid for those who are low-income. veterans, to phaebg -- make
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certain we keep our promise of good health to them. a variety of others. as government costs go up, they squeeze out all other spending, spending on things like medical research, things like education, helping students have the money they need to go to college. so when we talk about affordable care act and obamacare, we are talking about dealing with the health care issue that directly impacts the debt of the united states of america. so we pass this bill to try to start to reduce the cost of health insurance and to make health insurance more available. and we change some critical things about health insurance. does anyone here following this debate know of a person with a preexisting condition? someone in your family who maybe has high blood pressure, high cholesterol? asthma?
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diabetes? a history of cancer. all of those things can disqualify you, or could before this bill passed, from even having health insurance. we said that's the end of it. health insurance companies have to take everybody. everybody. you cannot exclude a person for a preexisting condition. take them all. don't cherry pick the healthy people. take them all. the second thing we said was don't put a limit on the amount of money that a health insurance policy will pay for obvious reasons. you go to the doctor tomorrow. a member of your family gets a terrible diagnosis of a need for cancer treatment and bills start stacking up. if your health insurance policy has a cap or a limit of, say, $50,000 or $100,000, when you reach that limit, there goes all your savings. you're finished. so we eliminate the limits on coverage in health insurance policies. that's obamacare. and when republicans come to the floor and say we want to abolish
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obamacare, they are abolishing these protections in health insurance. they are abolishing the provision which says you can't discriminate because of prekpeufgs -- preexisting conditions, they are abolishing the provisions that say 80% of the premiums you pay have to be used by the health insurance company to pay for medical care, not for profit taking, not for advertising but for actual medical care. and there's more. parents who are raising children, who are going to college today, i went through that. my wife and i did with our kids. how many times are you going to ask that person just graduating from college, jennifer, do you have your health insurance? have you bought any health insurance? and have them tell you, dad, i feel fine. let me tell you as a parent, that isn't a good answer. but many students graduating from college who can't find a job or a full-time job don't have health insurance.
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the atpoerbl -- affordable care act, obamacare, says families can keep these young people on their own health insurance plan until they reach the age of 26. across america over a million young people now have protection because of that. also in affordable care, in the health care reform act, we start reducing the out-of-pocket costs to prescription drugs for seniors under medicare. medicare prescription part-d is the right thing to do, but there was the so-called doughnut hole, this period where seniors had to pay out of their pockets. we started closing that doughnut hole to make sure that seniors didn't lose their precious savings to buy the medicine they needed to stay healthy and independent and strong. so when the republicans say we want to abolish obamacare and health care reform, they want to abolish this provision that will allow families to continue to cover their young people, their kids, until the age of 26. and they want to abolish the
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provisions which say basically that those who are receiving medicare prescription part-d will pay less out of pocket. those are four or five of the things that are part of obamacare. the central part of it which starts october 1 -- and i think this is what makes some politicians on the hill especially nervous -- october 1, they will advertise across america the insurance exchanges. what is an insurance exchange? it is an opportunity for people to buy health insurance. many of them have never ever in their lives been able to shop for health insurance. now they can. and if they're low-income families, they may not have to pay a premium, or a reduced premium under these insurance skhraepbgz. well, are -- insurance exchanges. are these exchanges reliable? trustworthy? can we count on them? we better. because we put in the law members of congress have to buy their insurance on these very same health insurance exchanges. what's good for america should
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be good for members of congress. in my state there will be at least a half dozen plans to choose from. in a state like california when they announced their exchanges they announced a reduction in premiums people had to pay under those exchanges. that's what we're looking for. competition, opportunity. people can make their choice if they wish to go on the exchanges. members of congress and our staff people don't have that choice. we're in them. and that's fine. i think it's going to be good health insurance and i have no question there will be in my state of illinois. but to eliminate obamacare is to eliminate these health insurance exchanges which means a lot of people desperate for health insurance for the first time in their lives, health insurance that they can afford will not be able to do so. i don't think the bill we passed, obamacare, health care reform, is a perfect bill. there's hardly anything that we do here that's perfect or even close. and i think it could be changed for the better. i'm open to that. i hope that members on both sides are. but that's not the way it works
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here. in the house of representatives, they voted 41 times -- 41 times -- to destroy and eliminate obamacare. 41 times. the republican leader, mr. cantor of virginia, offered one change in obamacare that he thought made it better. his own party turned on it to say no, we don't want to improve this bill. we want it to go down in flames. we don't want this law to go forward. it's not a positive view. a positive view is to take this measure, improve it where we can and work to make it part of america's future, like social security, like medicare, like medicaid. these are programs which are critically important to millions of americans. i'm sorry that we're facing this showdown. what i hope will happen in the senate is this, i hope the united states senate doesn't go under cruise control following what we've seen from the house republican caucus, this notion of doomsday scenarios and high
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noon scenarios and shutting down the government and shutting down the economy. i hope that there will be reasonable conservative republicans who will stand up and say that is unacceptable. we are going to sit down and in good faith bargain with the democrats in the senate to resolve whatever differences we can, but not to damage our government or our economy at this important moment in our history. that kind of courage will be rewarded. it may not be popular with some of the talking heads or screaming heads in shows on television. but the american people are looking for that kind of leadership on both sides of the aisle. they do not accept the notion that shutting down the government and shutting down the economy is the best way to solve our political problems. the approval rating of congress now is about 11%. i'm surprised many days that it's even that high. i didn't know we had so many relatives and people on the payroll. but 11%. we can do better if we face our
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problems and challenges honestly and deal with them in a way that doesn't hurt innocent people and families across america. mr. president, i yield the floor. as a member of the united states senate, it is important to pause and recognize some alarming facts about suicide in america and among our veterans. on average, every day 365 days a year, 22 veterans that have served america take their own life in suicide. that's 8,000 veterans a year. an alarming number that is growing. it is important for us to recognize the need to see to it our veterans have access to those things that could help to
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prevent suicide and make sure that it's minimized appeared happens as little as possible. recent surveys by v.s.o.'s, the veterans service organizations, have demonstrated that an alarming number of veterans in america have actually considered suicide and an even further alateralling number know someone who has attempted to take their life or in fact was successful. we know there are reasons that are hurting us. reasons that are hurting us is long lines for veterans in need of mental health. mental health needs are an emergency. they are not something that is not time-sensitive. we have got to improve wait times. there is a nationwide shortage, both public and private, of mental health providers. we've got work on seeing to it that we improve the number of providers for our entire country. scarce appointment times for veterans because of their work or family opportunities and
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scarce appoint times because of overworked v.a. hospitals make it sometimes difficult and protracted for a veteran to receive services. biggest of all to me is the gaps in the continuing of service and treatment to a veteran under mental stress and depression. i want to focus on that for just a second. recently i held a v.a. field hearing in atlanta, georgia. because of the trag dhai took place at the atlanta v.a. we had two suicides of veterans under the care of the hospital and one overdose of drugs while someone was in the hospital and under the care of the hospital. those brought about an inspector general's report that made a plethora of recommendations to the veterans administration in atlanta but also nationwide on things the v.a. needed to do to address those problems. to the credit of director pessel, head of all v.a. medical care, and eric shin say key, the
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v.a. has begun taking initiatives to do soavment but we have got to make sure they accelerate the initiatives and provide the care that is necessary so that wherever possible we eliminate the wait times and the lack of continuum of care. in a recent survey by the inspector general, they found that 20% of veterans, one in five, who were referred to a private mental health provider never got an appointment. mr. president, that's one in every five veteran whose have come in and admitted that they have a problem. they may be at risk for taking their own life, they may be in depression. that is unsatisfactory. one of the focuses we made in our hearing was bringing about better coordination by the v.a. in terms of accessing community resources in mental health to see to it we raise the number of providers offering mental health services to our veterans. as i've said earlier in my remarks, suicide is preventable. it is not, however, preventable if there is no access to
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therapy, no access to consultation, no access for our veterans when they need it the most. let me brag a little bit about the v.a. and some of the things they've done in recent years that have helped and give you some amazing statistics. in 2007, the veterans crisis line was conceived, where veterans in trouble for themselves can call in and receive counseling. more than 814,000 calls have been received by the veterans crisis line since it opened, and 28,000 interventions have saved the lives of veterans. that's 28,000 veterans who are alive today because of the crisis line. in 2009, the v.a. added an anonymous v.a. chat service where a veteran could have a nonthreatening way of communicating and seeking service anonymously. most impressive to me, in 2011 the veterans crisis line added texting as way to expand its
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accessibility to veterans. if you are a veteran in crisis, we need to make sure as american united states senators and as members of the veterans' committee that you have the access you need to the therapy and counseling you need when you need it. we know the tragedy of suicide is hard on a family. we owe it to ourselves to see to it that the veterans administration continues to improve access to mental health services, continues to reduce the wait times and long lines, and continues to cooperate and reach out to the community to bring in private providers on a referral basis so that veterans in need of care get a referral and get an appointment quickly. my last point on that, too, mr. president: it's important that the v.a. be sure they follow that veteran to make sure they keep that appointment. in the cases of suicides in the atlanta v.a., the fail tour keep an appointment or the failure to have a continuum of care in following of that veteran substantially created and contributed to the loss of that lifetime so while we've had
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tragedies at the atlanta varks things are improving. while we've had tragedies in suicide across the country we're fine aolly focusing on veteran suicide. lastly, we need to focus on the fact that there are many contributing factors to suicide. many people will think it's someone returning from iraqi freedom or enduring freedom. in some cases that is true. but more often thank not, veterans over 50 are the victims of suicide. in atlanta, they were vietnam-era veterans at the time. it is every veteran that's at risk. it is every veteran that needs access treatment. we owe our veterans a big debt. most importantly, a way to see to it that they don't lose their life out of despair and depression, but their life is saved because our v.a. cares enough to see to it that they have the continuum of care and the access to help that they so need. to the v.a. administration, thanks for the improvements they are making. to every member of the senate, let's continue to support the veterans administration and the funding to deal with the more
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than 1 million new veterans returning home because of the wars in the middle east over the last decade. i yield back the balance of my time and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, earlier this week the congressional budget office released its latest long-term outlook, and of course the c.b.o. as it is known around here, is the authoritative guide to all things involving the finances and the fiscal picture for the federal government. that long-term outlook offered us a sobering reminder that the federal government cannot defy the laws of fiscal gravity forever. in other words, as every american he knows, every working family knows, your output can't
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exceed your input forever or you can't spend more money than you're putting in unless you're the federal government. but sooner or later we'll have to reverse the trend of debt accumulation or else it will destroy our economy. the crazy thing about it is that everybody in washington, particularly the congress, everybody knows that. and yet it seems like they're in a state of denial about what could very well happen to our country and to our future if we don't act. as i said, it's a very sobering message, and it's also very different from the message that president obama has been delivering lately, who likes to talk about america's short-term budget deficit falling. but just to remind everybody, there is the debt and there's deficits. deficits we measure on an annual
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basis. debt is the cumulative shortfall between what comes in the front door and what goes out the back door. and that debt now is about $17 trillion. for these young people down here, that's about $52,000 each that you owe because my generation and other adults have not been responsible, and we have shoved off on the next generation the responsibilities that we ought to be meeting ourselves today. so here's a reality. any short-term deficit reduction will be meaningless unless we adopt longer-term reforms, and that means where the federal government spends most of its money, which is in mandatory spending -- and that's the spending that keeps social security and medicare, among other programs, going. and we need to also bend the spending curve down so that
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we're spending less money as well. the congressional budget office estimates that when we factor in the likely impact of rising debt levels, publicly held debt is on course to reach 108% of our gross domestic product in 2038. gross domestic product, that's basically another way of saying the size of our entire economy. 108% of the size of our entire economy is their projection, and that's before we include money that the federal government effectively owes itself. so by 2038 -- and i realize that sounds like a long time. i remember when i was a kid growing up, i thought the year 2000 was going to be a long time away, but we now see that only in our rear-view mirror. but by 2038 under current law our net interest payments as a
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share of our economy would be two and a half times greater than the 40-year average. let me policy that down a little bit. when we -- let me boil that down a little bit. when we borrow money, because we're spending money we don't actually have, that adds to our annual deficit. but it also over time adds to our national debt. so we have to get somebody to buy that debt so we can continue to spend money we don't have, we can continue to spend borrowed money. well, we have to pay interest to our creditors. in other words, they're going to expect a rate of return, as anybody would if you loan somebody money. when china loans us money, it's not cost free. when they buy a huge portion of our national debt, it's not cost free. and over time we will see interest rates which are really at historic lows because of the aggression action of the federal reserve keeping interest rates
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low, as interest rates go back up, as they will, to historic norms, we're going to see a larger and larger share of what the federal government spends just merely to pay china and our other creditors who -- to buy our debt, unless we take aggressive measures to begin to bring our debt load down. now, the president and the democrats frequently demand more spending on things like research and development. that's a good thing. or infrastructure. that's a good thing. yet, they refuse to embrace the serious reforms that are necessary to enable us to do that. so here again, when the interest payments on the debt invariably will go up, they crowd out spending on other priorities like research and development, like infrastructure, like education, other things that should be among our national
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priorities. well, the congressional budget office projects that, again, by 2038, total spending on everything other than major health care programs, social security and net interest payments would decline to 7% of our gross domestic product. that's down from 11%, which is the average over the last 40 years. and that's the crowding out effect that i was mentioning a moment ago. so when you're spending more and more money on these other programs, it crowds out spending on other things necessary to keep our economy growing and to keep people employed. if we don't start reforming our biggest mandatory spending programs -- again, that's social security and medicare -- in a responsible sort of way, it will become much harder for the federal government to perform its most basic obligations, and it will leave these young people and others like my daughters who
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are in their early 30's, leave them holding the bag not only with the debt that i mentioned a moment ago, but also with broken programs that are unsustainable, that will not be there for them when they turn 65 or when they get older. so, you know, it is a law of nature that you can't keep spending money that you don't have, and you can't keep racking up debt forever without any consequences. the only question is whether the reforms i'm talking about will be gradual, be phased in over time or whether they'll be sudden and abrupt and disruptive. if we start now in a responsible way, these reforms can be gradual. thank goodness when social security was passed, people didn't live to be 80 years old on average and they weren't as
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productive as they are today. that's a good thing. modern medicine and nutrition have made it possible for us to live longer on average and much more productively. but we need to make sure that we take into account through medicare and social security the fact that people are living longer and more productively to make sure that our programs are modernized to keep up with those, to make sure they're available in the future, particularly among our most vulnerable citizens. but if we wait until america is on the verge of a debt crisis, the reforms will have to be abrupt. in other words, when the bottom drops out, a lot of people are going to be hurt and it will be far more difficult to protect the most vulnerable among us from the harshest sort of cuts. so what i'm suggesting just to me makes sense, that wouldn't we
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prefer to be in control of a gradual reform of our mandatory spending programs that are phased in over years in ways that most americans will not actually feel because it can be done gradually? well, to me, it makes sense to do that as opposed to watching the bottom drop out or just simply kicking the can down the road. but you know as they say, if you kick the can down the road long enough, pretty soon you're going to run out of road. let me again quote from the congressional budget office. they said at some point investors will begin to doubt the government's willingness or ability to pay u.s. debt obligations, making it more difficult or more expensive for the government to borrow money. moreover, even before that point is reached, the high and rising amount of debt the c.b.o. projects under the extended baseline would have significant
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negative consequences for both the economy and the federal budget. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent for two additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: those negative consequences would include less private investment, more federal spending on interest, which i've talked about briefly, less flexibility to address unexpected events which you know always seem to occur, like 9/11 or a natural disaster, and a more risk of a full-blown debt crisis. to the extent that president obama and our friends across the aisle acknowledge our long-term debt problem, their main solution seems to be always the same. let's raise taxes some more. well, in fact, they're now trying to use tax reform, which we thought should be revenue-neutral, as a vehicle for another $1 trillion tax increase. we're told that's a condition of
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talking about reforming our tax code to make it flatter, simpler and more growth-oriented. and that's even after the president and his allies have already raised taxes by $1.7 trillion. so there's never enough to feed the beast of the federal government here in washington. it's insatiable. meanwhile, to the extent the president acknowledges the need for medicare reform, his proposals always involve more price controls, primarily on the providers. yet, price controls have not solved medicare's fundamental cost problems, and they won't solve it in the future. what it's done is they said we can save money on medicare. we'll just whack the payments we make to doctors and hospitals. well, i can tell you from talking to the hospitals in texas and the doctors who would like to see medicare patients but they can no longer afford to do so, that it is limiting access to health care by just
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dealing with medicare on this basis, of price controls and whacking payments to providers. amid the weakest economic recovery and the longest period of high unemployment since the great depression, the last thing we need is another massive tax increase that would discourage work savings and investment. we all know that we cannot simply tax our way back into fiscal stability, and we cannot spend our way back into economic prosperity. if the president would just merely accept those two realities, we might finally get the kind of long-term reforms and the real long-term spending cuts that might finally produce the economic recovery that america is desperately waiting for and desperately needs. mr. president, i yield the floor .
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i rise to address the energy efficiency bill that we have been attempting to take up in this chamber, and in particular, an amendment that i would like to offer to this bill. i want to just strongly urge my colleagues, can we please get on this bill? i really wish we'd do some business here in the senate. i think we're on our way to our
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second consecutive week where we have not had a single vote on a single legislative matter, at least not that i can remember. and we've got important legislation issues to deal with. i happen to on -- without addressing the challenges that we need to address for the sake of the people we represent, the american people. i want to talk about one small particular but important aspect of this. i have an amendment that i have filed, and i want to thank my cosponsors, senators coburn, flake, and ayotte, for joining me in this effort. it is an effort to repeal the renewable fuels standard. and i want to talk about why this is so important that we do this. first of all, the renewable fuel standard is an old law. it's on the books. and it requires -- it's a federal government mandate that
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we burn certain amounts, a certain volume of ethanol in our gasoline. that's the mandate. we've gotten to the point where this year this mandate will require that over 40% of all the corn we grow in america is going to be turned into ethanol and burned in our gasoline tanks, frommure gasoline tanks in our automobiles. we are literally burning our food. that's what we're doing on a very, very large scale. and the way this law works is it requires increases every year in the amount of ethanol that we are forced to burn through our gasoline tanks. the fact is, mr. president, this policy is harmful to our environment, it is unambiguously raising food prices, it makes it more expensive to fill up at the gas pufn, and it is costing -- and it is really threatening good-paying jobs in pennsylvania
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and in other states. it is time for this to go, and when we amendment would do is completely repeal this renewable fuel standard, which is overdue, and i know there's broad support for peeling this back. and i would hope there is a majority in this body that would support this amendment, if we could only get on to it. so i do very much hope we will. let me explain just why -- how problematic this is. first of all, let's remember the history, right. the whole idea behind creating this renewable fuel standard, behind forcing people to take corn, convert it into ethanol, and burn it in their car engine, the idea it is what this was somehow going to be good for the environment. that was the idea at the time that it passed. in fact, it is clear that this is bad for the environment, this is counterproductive just purely from an environmental point of view. the environmental working group, for instance, put on a statement. they have said on the record, "the rapid expansion of corn
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ethanol production has increased greenhousgreenhouse gas emissio, worsened air and water pollution and driven up the price of food and feed. this is the e.w.g. that came to that conclusion. it is widely acknowledged that using corn in gasoline actually uses more carbon dioxide emissions, the greenhouse gas emissions that many people are concerned about. you have more that have when you burn ethanol than if you burned gasoline. the clean air task force estimates that carbon emissions from corn ethanol between 2015 and 2024 on the path we're on now would exceed 1.4 billion tons and that's 300 million tons more than if all of that instead were -- if the energy were supplied by gasoline instead. so it is counterproductive from a imponing emission point of view -- from a carbon emission point of view. we have a chart here that quotes a conclusion from a study at
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stanford university that indicates the harm that ethanol does directly to human health, right. "vehicles running on ethanol will generate higher concentrations of ozone," which is a harmful gas. "higher concentrations of ozone than those using gasoline, especially in the wintertime." finally, in 2011, the national academy of sciences stated, "projected air quality effects from ethanol fuel would be more damaging to human health than those from gasoline use." okay? so i understand there was a time when we didn't know these things, when we had a different impression about the health and the air quality implications of using ethanol. but we don't have that excuse anymore. it is now clear that using ethanol instead of gasoline is net harmful to the environment and harmful to human health. that's a pretty good reason to
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reconsider this all by itself, but there are more reasons. one is the fact that it's more expensive to produce ethanol than it is to produce gasoline. so not only is this harmful to our health, but it costs more to do it. the wall street estimated that in 2014, the renewable fuels standard will increase the per-gallon cost of gasoline from if i where to 10 to 25 cents. that could be over $300,000 a year for the average year. it is billions of dollars across our economy. it is a dead weight loss. no good thing comes out of that extra cost. it just reduces the standard of living of everybody who is forced to bear that cost. in addition to increasing fuel prices, it increases food prices, which stands to reason if you take 40% of all the comp that's produced in america and you burn it, well, there's that less food that's available for food. and corn is an incredibly basic and important source of food, both directly and indirectly.
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this phenomenon alone -- the diversion of corn for ethanol production -- is deemed by many scholars who have looked at this as costing maybe as much as a full percentage point a year for the average family. that's on the order of over $150 per year that we force people to pay in the form of higher food prices alone. another example is the indirect way in which higher corn prices filter into the rest of the economy. the fact is, feed grain is typically half the cost of raising livestock, and corn is the com dominant feed grain in america. the usda's chief economist stated that the renewable fuel standard increases corn prices between 30% and 40%, and it got so bad -- it got so absurd that in 2012 -- 2012, mr. president,
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there were farmers feeding their cattle candy because it was cheaper to buy candy than to buy corn. how absurd is this that a federal government policy is driving this kind of behavior? it makes no sense at all. here's another fact about ethanol. the fact is, it's harmful to motors. it's harmful to engines. reciprocating piston engines that we use in our vehicles and motorcycles and boat engines, they're designed to burn gasoline. they are a not designed to burn ethanol. the e.p.a. has acknowledged this. ethanol is corrosive. as more water gets dissolved in the ethanol - -- the e.p.a. has acknowledged this. the water mixture does damages to engine. aaa has warned that it damages
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95% of the cars on the road today. then the last thing i would point out, mr. president, is that this policy threatens good-paying jobs. there's no -- visited a refinery in southeastern pennsylvania, a refinery that employs hundreds of workers in good-paying jobs, providing the gasoline that we need to move our economy to move our families, to get two and two work and to do all the things we need to do in life. wcialg thwell, the fact is, they to be a viable, ongoing factory is jeopardized, threatened by the renewable fuel starchltdz i want to read a letter that i got from the philadelphiaa afl-cio business manager, whose concern is the job security of the workers he represents. and i'm going to quote from his letter to meevment he says, "our
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resurrected factory in trainer, pennsylvania" -- this was a refinery that was shuttered and in danger of never reopening. and it took an amazing effort by the stakeholders in this community to make this viable. and it is viable right now. and it's employing hundreds of workers in delaware county. but the point that he makes is that "our resurrected refine any trainer, pennsylvania, needs your intervefnlings the increased credit in the amount of ring credits" -- how the e.p.a. forces compliance with these standards. it is too complicated to get into, but it is part of the counterproductive economics in this. so to get back to his letter. "the impact of the dramatic spike in the cost of the ring credits from 4 cents to $1 per gallon will cause a tremendous
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depression in our refinery's bottom line in 2014. the building trades, we need them to have economic strielt to bring about the construction and maintenance projects that our members depend upon. the steelworkers need the economic vitality so they can maintain and expand their jobs with the refinery. we need your assistance, your help with this matter." well, i want to provide the help that they need, that pennsylvanians need that we all need from this ill-conceived policy that clearly -- clearly, has no place in the united states anymore. the help is in the form of this amendment. this amendment solves the problem. it repeals this ill-conceived standard completely. it would go away. there is -- i know there's bipartisan support for this amendment of i have several -- nor this amendment. i have several colleagues who have cosponsored this amendment. this is our opportunity to pass this amendment. as i've said $and let me just recap, this is just bad policy
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on every possible front. the renewable fuels standards forcing us to burn so much of our corn in the form of ethanol is harmful to our environment. it's harmful to human health. it increases food prices. it increases fuel prices at the pump. it damages the engines that we rely on, and it jeopardizes jobs. what more arguments do we need to bring an end to this misguided program? we know this. we've known this for sometime. now is the time to act. so, mr. president, i'm just urging my colleagues, let's get on the bill. let's have amendments. let's have lots of amendments. if we'd spent the last week mowing down amendments instead of arguing about them, we'd be done by now. we could have processed many dozens of amendments easily. and one of them could have been this one. well, i don't think it's too late. we could still get on this bill. we could still do something that would be very, very sensible for
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our environment, for our economy, for consumers, for our health, for the sake of our jobs. let's repeal the renewable fuel standards. let's do it by adopting my amendment, and let's do that by getting on this bill. and i -- mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. toomey: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i would ask unanimous consent that vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1392, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 154, ^s*z ^+13 92, a bill to promote energy savings in residential buildings and industry and for other purposes. mr. wyden: blood pressure? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter:man, i rise again to talk about the urgent need as october i 1 approaches to vote n a "no washington exemption from
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obamacare amendment or bill." this isn't of my creating. i wish it weren't here, but it is here because of an illegal rule issued by the obama administration to completely reverse the clear language on the subject in obamacare. mr. president, let me just back up and give the brief history. during the obamacare debate, a proposal was made by many of us, led by senator chuck grassley of iowa, and the proposal was simple. he said, every member of congress, all congressional staff, should live under the most onerous provisions of obamacare, specifically, we should have to get our health care from the exchanges, where millions of americans are going, against their will having lost in many, many cases the previous health care coverage from employers that they enjoyed. sed
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that's what washington should have to live with, and there is explicit, specific language put in obamacare to that point for congress. it said every member of congress, all congressional staff, have to go to the exchange. the intent behind this was crystal clear. as the senator said -- quote -- "the more that congress experiences the laws that passes, the better." close quote. and i agree with that. i agreed with it then. i agree with it now. well, amazingly, that provision got in the final version of obamacare. and then i guess it was a classic example, if you will, of what nancy pelosi said, we have to pass the law to figure out what's in it. it did pass. folks around capitol hill did figure out what's in it with regard to that section, and they said, oh, you know what.
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we have to go to the exchanges. we don't like that. and that's going to create out-of-pocket expense. we don't like that. so immediately furious lobbying started, continued for some time. and sure enough as a result of that, president obama personally intervened. he was personally involved. and his administration issued a rule on the subject right as congress safely had left town for the august recess. that rule said two things basically. one, it said, you know, this official congressional staff, we don't know who that is. so every member of congress will get to decide what staff, if any, under their employment will have to go to the exchange. mr. president, that's ridiculous. i think that's ludicrous on its face. that's not what the statute says at all. it says all official
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congressional staff, and every member of congress shouldn't be able to decide differently member by member whether anyone at all on their staff has to go to the exchange. but the second part of this illegal rule is even more interesting. it said whoever does go to the exchange in terms of members and staff gets to take their very, very generous taxpayer-funded subsidy from the federal employee health benefit plan with them. now the obamacare statute doesn't say that at all. and in fact, a different part of the obamacare statute says exactly the opposite. it's about employees in general who go to the exchange, and it says when an employee goes to the exchange, he or she loses any previous employer-provided subsidy. that's section 1512. that's explicit in the obamacare
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statute. so this special rule for washington is illegal. flat-out illegal and contrary to the statute, in my opinion. but it goes into effect october 1, and that's why my colleagues and i who support the no washington exemption language had to take action, had to fight for a vote now. we need this debate and vote now before october 1. that's what it's all about, mr. president. as i said, my distinguished colleague from iowa, who authored this language, couldn't have been more clear. quote -- "the more that congress experiences the laws it passes, the better." close quote. also, employment lawyers who have looked at the statute agree with me that there is no big subsidy that we should be able to take with us to the exchange.
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for instance, david ermer, the lawyer who has represented insurers for 30 years said -- quote -- "i don't think members of congress and their staff can get fund for coverage in the exchanges under the existing law." that was in "the new york times." many other employment lawyers have said the same because it's crystal clear from the statute. as national review online reported -- quote -- "most employment lawyers interpreted that to mean that the taxpayer federal health insurance subsidies dispensed to those on congress's payroll which now range from $5,000 to $11,000 a year would have to end." close quote. yes, that is the clear language and the clear legislative history of the statute. and yet, all this hocus-pocus to
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do exactly the opposite, contrary to the law. as the heritage foundation said -- quote -- "obama's action to benefit the political class is the latest example of this administration doing whatever it wants regardless of whether it has the authority to do so.." the office of personnel management overstepped its authority twhe carried out the -- when it carried out the president's request to exempt congress from the requirements of the health care law. changing laws is the responsibility of the legislative branch, not the executive branch." close quote. also the heritage foundation also said -- quote -- "washington's political class and ally, big special interest lobbyists, are responsible. and until this bad law is fully repealed, the president's team and congress should submit fully to its multiple and costly requirements just like everyone else." close quote.
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national review online has echoed the same, and they're right. quote -- "under behind the scenes pressure from members of congress in both parties, president obama used the quiet of the august recess to personally order the office of personnel management, which supervises federal employment issues, to interpret the law so as to retain the generous congressional benefits." close quote. and the "wall street journal" opined -- quote -- "if republicans want to show that they stand for something, this is it. if they really are willing to do whatever it takes to oppose this law, there would be no more meaningful way to prove it." close quote. so, mr. president, this is why we're here at this moment, and this is why it is so important and necessary to have this debate and this vote now. now, mr. president, i'm very happy that at least some of my colleagues have properly
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recognized that, and that includes the distinguished majority floor manager of this bill, and have agreed in principle to this vote. the distinguished majority leader, senator reid, has agreed in principle to this vote. but it's interesting that, at least in his case, although we have some agreement in principle, we have no vote. and, quite frankly, i'm not surprised. you know, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. if you agree to a vote, then you've got to have a vote. and so we need to have a vote. but we need to have a vote by october 1, and i'm going to keep fighting for a vote. that's basic fairness to deal with this illegal rule. again, the timing of this is here and now, and that's not of my doing. i didn't favor the illegal rule that makes the issue come before us. i didn't favor the october 1
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deadline. that should never have happened at all. but it is before us, and that deadline is before us because of the illegal rule from the obama administration. and so that's why we need a vote. we need a vote before october 1. now, as i said, the distinguished majority leader says he'll permit a vote. he says that in theory, but it doesn't happen in practice. so, again, we wait and wait and wait and demand a vote. it doesn't have to be on this bill. and so i will continue to come back. i will file this amendment with regard to the c.r.. that's a perfect place to have this debate and vote. or we can do it as a stand-alone bill. we can do that easily next week before october 1. we can do it without disrupting
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any other floor business, without delaying any other action with regard to the c.r. or anything else. and so, mr. president, in that spirit, let me ask for a unanimous consent in that regard. and i would ask unanimous consent that on wednesday, december 25, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. the senate discharge the senate committee on finance from consideration of my bill, the no exemption for washington from obamacare act, proceed immediately to consideration of that bill, s. 1497. that would it any -- that without intervening motions or debate the senate proceed to 60 minutes of debate on the bill be evenly divided controlled by the majority leader and myself, that the bill not be subject to amendments, points of order or motions to commit and that after debate has expired the bill be engrossed for third reading, read a third time and the senate immediately on passage, subject to a 60-affirmative vote
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threshold, a vote on passage and that the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table following that vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: i object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. vitter: mr. president, i understand that the floor leader is doing that for the majority leader, and that i think's very, very unfortunate. if the distinguished majority leader agrees to a vote in principle, we need a vote in reality. i said at the time when he agreed to it in principle that that's interesting. but i didn't think it would happen in reality. and sure enough this week it happened. that's correct, it has not happened. so, i think the majority leader, quite frankly, is very concerned about this vote. that's why he and others actually relied on threats and intimidation to try to avoid
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this vote. that didn't work. it's not going to work. i'm coming back with this amendment. i'm coming back with this bill. he's agreed to a vote in principle, so let's have a vote. and clearly, clearly, not from my doing but because of the illegal obama administration rule, that vote is timely now. that vote has to reasonably happen before october 1, which is why i propose that unanimous consent. that is a way to have the vote, which the majority leader agreed to in principle without disrupting any other business on the senate floor. it would literally take 60 minutes of debate and a 15-minute vote. so i'm sorry that was not accepted by the stkwrorl. but needless to say -- accepted by the majority leader. but needless to say i'll be back with my bill, my amendment.
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the american people deserve a vote because however it comes out, the american people should be able to know what senators will stand through that vote with washington and what senators will stand with america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president, before he leaves the floor, let me say to the senator from louisiana i want to talk a little bit about exactly this question of reality and how we can address the senate's business and address the senator's issue from louisiana as well. not in principle but with an actual vote. because the reality is, mr. president, there could have been already a vote on the amendment offered by the senator from louisiana. i'll describe exactly why that hasn't taken place. but it could have. and in my view, should have already taken place. it shouldn't have been about principles. it should have been about the
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reality of the vote that the senator from louisiana is talking about. here we are, and of course it's hard for the public to figure out exactly how the senate works. the new senator from hawaii, and he is a student of this, but we have a bipartisan energy efficiency bill on the floor of the senate now. farce i'm concerned, and i describe it this way, this is the platonic ideal of what bipartisan legislation ought to be all about. it is an extraordinary coalition built in favor of this group, the business round table, national association of manufacturers, chamber of commerce, with some of the country's leading public interest organizations that favor energy efficiency, and they're doing it for a reason. this is going to increase american productivity. we're going to save money because we aren't going to waste so much energy. and this is going to create good-paying jobs in a variety of
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new fields and technologies that are going to be good for people in our country. and my view is we should have already finished this debate with relevant amendments. rell srapbd amendments -- relevant amendments offered by both sides. when we started the debate, for the first four or five hours there was a good bipartisan amendment offered almost hourly. we've got them all stacked up, like planes hovering over an airport. now, at that point, conservatives indicated that there were two areas that they felt strongly about getting a vote on. again, i'm not talking about principles here. we're talking about the reality of a vote, and a vote that could have already taken place. one of them was on the amendment offered by the senator from louisiana. i happen to disagree with the amendment strongly, but in all of the discussions, i said it
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seems appropriate that there be a vote on that amendment and on another amendment which i disagree with involving the keystone pipeline. and at that point a very clear statement was made by the leadership, you know, here that if we're talking about the energy efficiency bill and these two votes -- mot not principlest realities of having those two votes, a vote on the vitter raimenamendment and a vote on te keystone pipeline -- and then we had relevant amendments, amendments that relate to energy efficiency, we would be able to complete this bill, and i am of the view, stins w since we start last week, mr. president, we would have already been done by now. what has happened, after that message was communicated by the
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leadership on this side of the aisle, we have seen -- the response to that, in response to saying we'll vote on the amendment offered by the senator from louisiana, we will vote on the proposal offered by senator hoeven from north dakota, we'll have a procedural agreement to vote on other relevant amendments, we had scores and scores of other amendments offered to this bill that were clearly not related to energy efficiency. so i would say to the senator from louisiana, the reality -- not kind of rhetoric from the senate or principles -- the reality of why there has not been a recorded vote, up or down -- by the way, this is a vote that would have met the senator's principles that he wanted the vote before october 1 -- there would have been that up
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up-or-down vote on the amendment offered by the senator from louisiana already. it would have been done in accord with the senator from louisiana's wishes before october 1, and what has been the sole hurdle, the sole hurdle in terms of securing that has been the scores of amendments that have been offered, primarily -- really exclusively from colleagues on the other side of the aisle who wanted to deal with other energy issues. i just want to make one other comment with respect to this. senator murkowski and i, because we have worked in a bipartisan way since we were given the opportunity to lead the energy and natural resources committee -- and we're honored to have the senator from hawaii on the committee -- we have said that our sole focus is going to be to
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try to find common ground on a host of energy issues that have been backed up, many of which colleagues on the other side of the aisle feel very strongly about. i would highlight, for example, nuclear waste legislation, where there has been no progress for years and years and now senator murkowski, with senator feinstein and senator alexander, have a bipartisan bill -- a bipartisan bill -- that we did i would allow us to get on ton of a critical issue. i feel very strongly, and i know ththe senator from louisiana cas a great deal about this, looking at ways to tap the potential of natural gas, which is 50% cleaner than the other fossil fuels. and so i've been working with industry and environment acialtion yoleaderson what i cad environmental leaders on what i call a win-win solution.
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and we would say in the future we're going it make them better pipelines, pipelines that don't leak so much. methane, so it will be good for consumers, good for the planet, and it will be good for industry. so we're interested in going on to those kinds of issues -- nuclear waste issues, natural gas issues, offshore energy issues -- again, important to the senator from, you know, louisiana, but it is pretty hard to get senators to focus on those kinds of issues if you can't move a piece of legislation like this energy, you know, efficiency bill which has really an unprecedented coalition behind it and has so many obvious benefits, without mandates, without a one-size-fits-all strategy run from washington. so i wanted to set the record straight in particular on this point. the senator from louisiana and i are going to continue our
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discussions, and we always, you know, have. but i especially want to emphasize, since my colleague from louisiana has been talking about whether people say you can vote in principle but you don't vote in reality, the relate at this time is -- the reality is we could have had a vote, mr. president, already on the amendment offered by the senator from louisiana before the october 1 date that he said he felt strongly about, if colleagues on his side had not insisted on all of these other amendments not related to energy efficiency. and, by the way, i've made it clear to them, coming from a state that doesn't produce, you know, fossil fuels, i was willing to work with them, particularly in areas like i've just described in tapping the potential of natural gas. the reality is, a, there could have been a recorded vote, up or
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down, on the amendment of offered by the senator from louisiana before october 1. and i just hope he and others will continue to work with the bipartisan leadership so that we can quickly get a finite list of additional amendments -- additional relevant amendments -- that would be offered after the senator from louisiana gets his vote, after there is a vote from -- on the amendment offered by the senator from north dakota. those, mr. president, are the realities of what has happened over the last week. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: mr. president, let me just say that i appreciate the comments of the distinguished majority floor leader, and i accept them, and i know that they are sincere in terms of his actions and in terms of his involvement. my point, of course, was not about him.
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my point is, i don't think it was an accident that we never got to "yes" in practice. i don't think that was an accident at all. i don't think it was an accident from the point of view of the majority leader. i don't think it was an accident from others' point of view. sand if yoand if you really wane glimpse into their true approach, you just have to look at the amendments that they floated last week which literally were about threats, intimidation and bribery. so that's a pretty clear window on where are they're coming from -- on where they're coming, from certainly not on where the distinguished floor leader is coming from. but let me just close by saying there's one more point of reality that i would underscoarks and that's this: -- that i would underscore, and that's this: in the u.s. senate there is one member that can virtually guarantee that a vote happens, and that's the majority leader.
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so he's promised an up-or-down vote on this before october 1 in theory. he has the power to clearly make that happen one way or the other in practice, so we'll just see if he does. it's as simple as that. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i have eight unanimous requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to understand that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i come to the floor today to mark the fifth anniversary, fifth birthday, if you will, but the tpeufbgt anniversary of the ap-- fifth anniversary of the application for the keystone x.l. pipeline, applied for approval in september 2008 and here we are five years later to the date without a decision. normally when you celebrate an anniversary or a birthday, if you will, you know, it's a good thing. it's positive. obviously in this case that's not the case. five years with no decision from this administration on the keystone x.l. pipeline. it really is mind mind-boggling. how can you be following the
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laws, the rules, the regulations of this country when a company applies for approval of something, and there is a decision that the administration has to make, is it in the national interest or is it not? that's the decision before the administration. you have to make a decision. we elect presidents to make decisions. so here we have five years later with no decision. not a yes. not a no. five years. five years of study of the project and still no decision. and you know, here's a project that will help generate more energy for our country, more jobs, economic growth, tax revenue without raising taxes, and a project by helping us become energy secure, energy independent with canada, working with canada, our closest friend and ally will enhance national security so we don't have to get oil from the middle east, something americans very, very much want.
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as a matter of fact, there was a recent poll put out by harris. it was done this summer. and that poll -- in that poll, and i have it right here, 82% in a harris poll released this summer, 82% of voting americans voice support for the keystone x.l. pipeline project. 82%. i mean, think about that. 82% of americans want the project approved, but for five years the administration hasn't been able to make a decision. and they're still not making a decision. and the indication now is this could go into next year. now we're working on year six. think about our economy. our economy is stagnant. businesses aren't investing in new capital, equipment and creating jobs. one of the reasons is because of burdensome regulation. this is a clear example. five years with no decision.
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this poll that i referred to, some of the other results out of it. 82% of voting americans support keystone x.l. pipeline project. that is not an old poll. that was done this summer. some of the other information from that poll, 85% of people agree keystone x.l. would help strengthen america's economic security. 85%. 81% of americans agree keystone x.l. would strengthen america's energy security. 77% of the american people, voting americans agree that keystone x.l. would help strengthen america's national security, as i just mentioned. not getting oil from the middle east, that is a no-brainer. and 75% agree that keystone x.l. would benefit the u.s. military by increasing access to oil from canada, our closest friend and ally. and, you know, one of the issues that gets brought up is, it's
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the environmental impact. concern about the environmental impact. let's look at the facts. in the five years since trans-canada applied for approval, in that five-year plan, the state department has done multiple environmental impact statements, i think on the order of four draft or supplemental, environmental impact statements. and you know what the finding on the environment has been? quote -- "no significant environmental impact." that's the obama administration's own state department. no significant environmental impact after five years of study . how many more years of study do we need? how is our economy going to work when businesses that want to invest billions in building vital infrastructure for our economy and create jobs have to wait five years before they get
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a go-ahead? and we're wondering why we have a sluggish economy. we're wondering why we're still importing oil from the middle east. and this isn't just about working with canada to produce energy for this country. my home state will put 100,000 barrels a day of oil into this pipeline, the lightest, sweetest crude produced anywhere in this country and take it to our refineries in this country to be used by american consumers and businesses. another criticism sometimes the opponents will bring up is, well, the oil is going to be exported. no, oil is going to be exported. shouldn't approve the skype -- is keystone x.l. pipeline, shouldn't work with canada, let's look at the facts. in june 2011 the department of energy, the obama administration department of energy put out a
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study which said specifically that the oil will be used in the united states. the oil will be used in the united states and it will help reduce gasoline prices for americans. now that wasn't somebody, some proponent that put it out. that was the obama administration's own department of energy after doing their study. so again, let's take a look at the facts. in my state, this kind of pipeline, as i said, we'll move 100,000 barrels a day on this pipeline that now we're moving by truck and by train, this pipeline will help take 500 trucks a day off our highways, saving incredible wear and tear, but also providing greater safety because you don't have all those trucks transporting this oil and gas. another argument is, well, if we don't build the keystone x.l. pipeline, then the oil in the oil sands of canada won't be
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produced. and so for those who are against using fossil fuels, folks who say we're not going to use fossil fuels anymore, you can say we don't want the pipeline because the oil sands in canada won't be produced. again look at the facts. the facts are very straightforward. the oil is already being produced, and it's moving by truck and train, not by pipeline. and if we don't utilize it here in the united states, then instead of coming to the united states, it will go to china where now you're moving it by tanker across the ocean and it's going to refineries that have much higher emissions. so you have worse environmental standards. and instead of us working with canada to get our oil rather than relying on -- rather than getting it from the middle east, which we're doing now, all that oil goes to china. think about it. think about it. is this what americans want? i mean, go out and ask them. that's why i cited the poll just
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a minute ago. 80%-plus support this project. right? and i think some of them that don't aren't aware of the project. but if you ask any american, they're going to say they don't want to rely on the middle east for oil. they'd much rather work with canada, they'd much rather produce it here like in my home state and work with canada so that we're energy independent, we're energy secure. we don't have to rely on the middle east. and let china and the other countries work with the middle east to get their oil. ask any american what they think about that proposition, and you know what answer you'll get. but the president, i guess, for whatever reason, here we are five years later, and he's still not making a decision. so today's the fifth anniversary, we're starting on year six, and the question is how much longer does this go? so i talked about it in terms of energy and energy security for
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this country. low cost, dependable energy so that when american families and businesses need energy to fuel their vehicles, they know that it's reliable, dependable, produced in this country and in a country like canada, our closest ally. not in the middle east and that we're not going to have to send our men and women in uniform over to a very difficult situation, at a minimum, in the middle east, a situation where look what's going on in syria. look what's going on with iran. look at the volatility. and we want to depend on that area for our oil? of course not. so it's about energy. it's about energy security. it is a national security interest. it is about jobs. there's been many, many studies on the number of jobs. and you can -- the proponents argue for one. the proponents argue for one. but again let's go back to the state department's own numbers
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after five years of study. they say more than 42,000 jobs will be created by the project. so don't take a study from the opponents of the project. don't take a study from the proponents of the project. take the state department's own study, more than 42,000 jobs at a time when our economy badly needs quality construction jobs. and it doesn't cost one penny of taxpayer money. as a matter of fact, the project reduces hundreds of millions to help reduce debt and deficit without higher taxes. so for all these reasons, this project should be approved. for all these reasons, this project is very much in the national interest. and i worked in this body and i've worked with our friends, our colleagues in the house to see if we can't approve this congressionally.
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this is a presidential decision. the decision before the administration is to decide is this project in the national interest or is it not in the national interest. will the american people -- well, the american people have already decided, poll after poll, 70%, 80%, the american people have decided it doesn't take them five years. but the administration can't decide. so congress should. congress should step up and decide. and i believe that it's very clearly in the national interest for all the reasons that i've clearly laid out, and i think that we need to move -- we need to work with our colleagues in the house and find a way to make a decision that the president seems to be unable to make, and i believe that decision needs to be that this project is in the national interest, that we do need to be energy secure, that
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we do want the jobs and the economic activity for our people in this country. and i believe that this decision needs to be made not on the basis of what special interest groups want but on the basis of what the american people want. and that verdict is in. and it's overwhelming. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, there are four senators on the floor who are each going to take about five minutes or so as we try -- the leadership is now working to make it possible for us to have a u.c. request so that we could have a vote on the helium legislation right after the respective caucus lunches. so as of now, we'll all take the four of us involved, myself, senator murkowski, barrasso and cruz, will all take about five minutes. we hope to be able to propound the u.c. request as we all talk
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and for all senators to know it's our hope to be available to vote on the legislation shortly after -- after lunch. mr. president and colleagues, we know that in washington, d.c., it's almost as if there is an inexhaustible capacity to manufacture false crises. i'm here to say that if congress does not act immediately to pass the legislation that we are discussing here, scores of american manufacturing and technology companies employing millions of american workers are going to find it impossible to continue their current operations. that's because without this legislation, those workers and companies would no longer be able to get access to helium, which is a critical industrial gas without which these
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companies cannot operate. every week in our country, there are 700,000 m.r.i. scans performed, and without liquid helium -- mr. president, that's used to school the superconducting magnets without which you can't run m.r.i.'s if you didn't have that capacity, millions of americans would lose access to a critical diagnostic test. helium is also used for welding in the aerospace industry. it's essential for manufacturing optical fiber for the telecommunications industry and for chip manufacturing in the semiconductor sector. now, without going into all of the history, our government got involved with helium after world war i because the defense sector needed it. ever since that time, and i've been discuss this go with colleagues, president after president, congress after congress has
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tried to come up with a policy that finally gets government out of the helium business while still ensuring the needs of the military business and our taxpayers were protected in the process. senator murkowski and i have worked for many, many months on this legislation in the energy and natural resources committee and we believe that our bipartisan bill accomplishes this. that's because the bill requires the federal government to shift from selling helium at a government set price to selling helium at a market-based price. the bill does this over a five-year period so there is no panic, no sudden changes in supply, and american businesses can stop worrying about whether the helium supply truck is going to actual sholy show up in the t month. the bill phases out commercial sales over the next seven or eight years and then gets the federal government out of the helium business entirely. with prices for helium now
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reflecting their real value in the marketplace, the private sector would have the incentives it needs to invest in new helium surprise tsupplies to what is na federal reserve. mr. president, i will wrap up by saying there have been loads of bad puns about congress floating over the years various ideas, you know, for helium legislation, but this is no joke. if congress does not pass legislation to extend operation of the federal helium reserve, 40% of the u.s. supply of this absolutely necessary industrial commodity will disappear at the end of the month. and we've been informed by the federal agency that handles this, the bureau of land management, they would actually start closing the valves on october 1 if congress has not acted. i note senator murkowski is here. i would just ask my colleagues if senator murkowski could go next, and i think senator cruz has been very gracious in terms of how we're trying to handle this. so if senator murkowski and
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senator cruz could come and i know senator barrasso is here, i think we'd all be done by the 12:30 window. and let me just say to my partner, once again, this is the kind of bipartisan approach we've tried to show on the energy and natural resources committee and i'm very appreciative of all she does to make our partnership work. ms. murkowski: well, i thank my colleague. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mrs. measure: thanms. murkowski, mr. president. if i may, i would at this time defer to senator barrasso and senator cruz before my comments. and i know both of them need to dash off the floor. so senator cruz, if you would like to go at this point in time and then i will -- i will wrap up after you and senator barrasso have spoken. mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: i thank my friend from oregon, my friend from alaska for their leadership, and, like they, i support extending the helium program.
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this is a good and important program that is critical to industry, it's critical to jobs, it's critical to our high-tech community. and i salute both the senate and the house for a positive bill that generates revenue for the federal treasury and that gets the government in time out of the helium business. i think that is a good and positive step. i would note that the house of representatives passed a bill that continues this program -- that continued this program but devoted the revenue that came from this to deficit reduction. and in a time when our national debt is approaching $17 trillion, i think devoting that revenue to deficit reduction is a good and appropriate place to direct that revenue. when the bill came to the sena senate, this bill is projected to generate approximately $500 million in new revenue for the federal government over 10 years. when it came to the senate, roughly $400 million in new
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spending was added to the bill that came out of that $500 million that was generated. and in my view, given the fiscal and economic challenges in this country, that revenue would be better spent paying down our deficit, reducing or national debt than it would be on new spending. and, indeed, and over the course of this week, i've had numerous conversations with my colleagues where i've urged them that if new spending were to be added, for them to endeavor to find other areas of federal spending that could be reduced, that could be cut to make up for that so that we could devote the full $500 million to reducing the deficit. i think that would be the most fiscally responsible approach to be taken. that being said, and for that reason, i have had concerns about proceeding on this bill with unanimous consent, proceeding on this bill, authorizing an additional $500 million in new spending without
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debate, without a vote. and earlier in this week, i had lonlodged internally an objectin to do so. now, i'm pleased to note that in conversations with senator murkowski and senator wyden, we have reached an agreement where this matter will not proceed by unanimous consent but, rather, will proceed with a roll call vote to be scheduled this afternoon, where each senator will cast his or her vote. and with that agreement, i am happy to withdraw any objection and allow us to go forward. i would note it is important for economic growth and for the high-tech industry to maintain this program but at the same time i hope that going forward that when new spending is authorized, that all of us work to cut spending to compensate so that we can devote the maximum resources possible to paying down our deficit, paying down our debt. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president, would the senator yield for a question?
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so do i understand that, senator cruz, that you don't oppose the bill as passed in the house that would have authorized this program to go forward but your concern is that new revenue -- there's new revenue being generated that's being spent for other programs? mr. cruz: that is -- that is correct. now, as -- in terms of a technical offset, the spending is offset by the revenue so i'm not arguing that it addition that it fails to off -- that it fails to offset in the typical language of the senate. but, rather, my concern is that's $500 million in new revenue that could be directed to deficit reduction. and given the magnitude of our national debt, if we have $500 million in new revenue from selling helium, sending it to the private sect tr, private sd father rather see that $500 million used to pay down our deficit. so what you've urged my colleagues to do, if there are new spending that are of
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particularly concern to their statesstates, to find other aspf the federal budget that could be cut to offset so that that $500 million could be go to deficit reduction rather than funding the new spending. mr. wyden: would the senator yield for a question? i'm going to ask a question and just respond to senator sessions' point in one sense. there are differences between the house bill and the senate bill. the house bill does not get the government out of the helium business permanently. the senate bill gets the government out of the helium business permanently. it does it in a way that is fully offset, a; and, b, not only is it offset, under our proposal, passed unanimously in the energy and natural resources committee, $51 million would actually be used to lower the deficit. so there is a full offset, a, get the government out of the helium business, you know, permanently, and $51 million
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would be returned to -- be used for deficit reduction. so what i'd like to do, by way of just moving things along. and senator cruz has been very gracious in terms of his handling of this and saw me on short notice and i'm very appreciative. senator cruz, i would like t to propound a unanimous consent request at this time. i'm asking the senator a question, if this is acceptable, and then we'll go right back to what my colleagues would like. i would like to ask the senator from texas if we would now move to ask unanimous consent that at 2:00 p.m., the energy committe committee -- that at 2:00 p.m., the energy committee was discharged from further consideration of the house bill and the senate proceed to its consideration and that the substitute amendment, which i have been discussing -- and you and i have talked about, it's at
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the desk -- would be agreed to. we would then have 15 minutes of debate equally divided at 2:00, divided between yourself and myself or our designees; that upon the use or yielding back of time, the bill, as amended, would be read a third time, the senate would proceed to vote passage of the bill, as amended, that motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. i ask the senator from texas, would that u.c. be acceptable to him? mr. cruz: and i'm pleased to tell my friend, it would be acceptable. i have no objection to that and i appreciate your willingness, along with senator murkowski's willingness, to allow this to come to a roll call vote so that each senator may be on record with their views on this bill. mr. wyden: when the senator, who's been good enough to yield me the time, has completed his time, with senator sessions and colleagues, that he may want to yield to, i will then propound that u.c. request. we don't anticipate any
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objections. colleagues would know that we would then have a vote shortly after 2:00. i thank senator cruz for his courtesy. mr. sessions: well, mr. president, i would just say this. we need to get it in our heads in this body that just because you raise revenue and pay for a new spending program, that doesn't have implications for the federal treasury and the budget. in fact, we've got rules that guard against that. senator cruz, i thank you for raising and highlighting that. we need to consider it. because the idea that, you know, you can just do that is -- a dangerous thing and it creates more taxing and more spending, more revenue and more spending. and as you raised the point, just because you raise revenue doesn't mean that the people who raise the revenue get to spend it on what they want.
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you're perfectly correct to say i think it should be used for debt reduction. and i thank you for raising the issue. i would yield the floor. mr. cruz: i thank the senator from alabama, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i appreciate the fine work done by all of our colleagues on this and i -- i want to support this bipartisan helium bill, s. 783. i think it's critical to maintain a stable supply of helium now and into the future. i think this bill accomplishes it. as a physician, i know how important it is that helium is available for the newest technologies, specifically to use to cool m.r.i. scanners, manufactured products such as semiconductors, fiber optic cables. helium also has important applications for the department of defense, for nasa, for the scientific research community.
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this bill merely extends the authority of the secretary of the interior to sell helium from the federal helium reserves in texas, including important reforms such as provisions already outlined by the chairman of the energy committee. the secretary sells helium at mark prices. thmarket places prices. prices. the federal government gets out of the helium business for once and for all. and that's a key component. in june, this energy committee, on which i serve, voted to report the helium bill. 22 members of the committee, there were no objections stated. this was bipartisan. the house has already passed its own helium bill, which is different than this. so i think that the senate should pass its bill as soon as possible, today, so that we can get the -- an opportunity to negotiate with the house, get something passed and then to the president for signaturement thansignature.thank you, mr. pr. i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i'm pleased that we are at this
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point where we will be able to move forward with this important legislation relating to our nation's helium program. i would certainly encourage my colleagues to support passage of this bill that we've spent several years now developing in the energy committee to reform it. the bill, as has been mentioned by my colleagues, is a bipartisan bill. it's an important piece of legislation that was reported to the senate floor in june by a voice vote. again, yet another good product come out of the energy committ committee. we need to move to pass this bill but also to reconcile the remaining issues that we have with the house. and we have to do this before october 1. october 1 is coming at us like a freight train on a lot of different issues, but if -- if we want to prevent a shortage of
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helium gas in this country, we're going to need to do it and do it now. again, the chairman referenced some jokes about helium. unfortunately, a lot of folks associate helium with helium balloons, party balloons and think that's what we're talking about here. it is such an essential component. medical imaging equipment, semiconductor manufacturing, rocket engines, precision welding. i think folks would be amazed how helium plays a part in our high-tech manufacturing world. so we have got to act on this. what we need to do is prevent a massive disruption in the supply chains so we need to pass this bill. as it has been mentioned, what we're doing is we are reforming and reauthorizing the federal helium program.
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this program provides 40% of our domestic and 30% of our global helium supplies and this comes from a cliffside field near amarillo, texas. the energy committee, as i noted, developed this bill that we have before us and what we really focused on was bringing market-based price discovery to the sale of this taxpayer-owned resource. the approach we've taken in committee will ensure a better return to the taxpayer, which we're all looking for, it prevents a small number of corporations from effectively being able to pocket value that belongs to the american public. it will also improve the management of the helium program to account for diminishing production and provide greater transparency for a program that clearly needs it. so lots of good reasons why we need to be doing this legislation. as the chairman mentioned, we're getting the government out of the program.
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that ought to be something that certainly all of us on this side of the aisle would agree. get the government out. get the government out of the business altogether. this bill completes a privatization process that congress set in motion back in 1996. it sets a hard and fast deadline for getting the federal government out of the helium business once and for all. and has been mentioned, we do have -- we do have a bill on the other side, the other body, that doesn't take it all the way. it doesn't fully get the government out of the business. so our legislation not later than 2022, all of the assets that are associated with the helium reserve will be sold out, the federal government's involvement in what should be a private market will end. of all the options before us for preventing an imminent helium shortage, this bill, the senate bill is the only one that also addresses the long-term
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goal of exiting the sector and leaving the development of future supplies to private industry. now, as has been mentioned, when we do this, when we get out of the business, when we conduct these auction sales, we generate revenue. good thing around here. kind of an important thing around here. as has been noted approximately $500 million in revenue. so what the energy committee did in a very bipartisan and very open process within our committee, we chose to devote some of this revenue to other programs within our committee jurisdiction, not creating new programs, but basically to provide for funding for obligations that have already been made. so one way or another, we're gog providing for these
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payments, whether it's to the abandoned mine land fund, whits to the secure rules -- whether it's to the secure rules school program, adjusting the royalty rates for the soda ash operators, whether it's the national park services backlog, whether it is the -- the mess has been left by the federal government when it comes to drilling exploratory wells and then abandoning them. so what we have done is we've looked very critically to these areas where we have had funding shortfalls within the energy committee's jurisdiction, and a portion of these revenues has been dedicated to that. but we heard from our colleagues, members on the committee and others, who said we need to make an effort to take some of these revenues and direct them to deficit reduction. and so we have reduced the febtd but at least -- federal debt by at least $56 million. this was a priority of senator
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flake and senator risch on the committee and we have directed that. so, again, all of these are priorities among programs within the energy and natural resources committee jurisdiction and then given the $56 million that is devoted to deficit reduction, the resources that we've devoted to addressing them are more than offset. and i think our success in striking this balance has been confirmed by both the congressional budget office and the bipartisan staff of our senate budget committee. so we've got an opportunity before us today, and i think we've got a responsibility to act now as this october 1 deadline is looming. first and foremost, we have to act to prevent a massive disruption to the helium supply chain that could harm so many sectors of our economy. this bill prevents that from happening. we also need to finish what the congress started back in 1996 and fully and finally privatize
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the helium business so the federal government can get out of the industry and we should address these other priorities, including deficit reduction, and other obligations that the federal government has already taken on by making responsible, thoughtful decisions about the use of the revenues associated with the reauthorization and the eventually closure of the federal helium reserve. for these reasons i would certainly encourage my colleagues to support the bill when we go to a vote in just about an hour and a half. and with i would yield to my friend. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, let me thank the senator from alaska for an excellent statement. it very much reflects our desire to make this bipartisan. i appreciate -- i particularly appreciate your noting the contributions of two of the members of our committee, senators risch and senator flake, who also made the point that yes, we are getting the
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government out of the helium business, yes, we are making sure that we are not putting at risk millions of high scil, high-wage jobs but we've got to be serious as my friend from alabama likes to say, we've got to be serious about this budget deficit. and i will be, he and i have talked often about medicare and other areas, we will be serious about that deficit reduction, as senator murkowski has talked about and particularly in light of the comments of senator risch and senator flake, we're able to do it. we're able to meet the needs of people, working families across this country who depend on those high-skill, high-wage jobs. so we're meeting those needs and we're contributing to deficit reduction. so i thought the senator's points were well taken. at this point, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that at 2:00 p.m. today the energy committee be discharged from
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further consideration of h.r. 527, the senate proceed to its consideration, and a wyden substitute amendment which is at the desk be agreed to, there be 15 minutes of debate, equally divided between senators wyden or cruz or their designees and upon theees use yearling back the time bill as amended be read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on the bill as amended, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. president. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: let me just say to the senators who have worked on this that ending the federal government government in -- involvement in this program is a great accomplishment -- accomplishment, senators, and thank you for that. i do think there is -- that technically there's not a budget point of order for the process
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that you've used in funding this bill, although i think senator cruz is raising a valid concern, i guess if we could do $50 million on deficit reduction, we could do more but i just want to say i'm proud of the thrust of your legislation, i think it's good legislation, i thank you for it, and it does not -- i'm informed, violate the budget act. mr. president, i've directed my staff on the budget committee to conduct a detailed analysis of the economic conditions facing working americans, their wages, their employment conditions, their household finances. i'll give a series of talks over the coming weeks looking at that financial situation, and the state of our nation as a whole economically. i'll also attempt to look at the causes leading to our current financial difficulties and
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suggest some steps to restore america's financial future. it's really important. the sad fact is that the state of middle- and lower-income americans is worsening on virtually every front. the slow growth of the economy which has been the slowest recovery from a recession since world war ii or the great recession is restraining the normal upward movement of income that previous generations have experienced. it's accelerated in the last several years, but it's been going on, we have to be honest with ourselves, for a much longer period of time. and if you don't have a job now, you're twice as likely to only find a part-time job as a full-time work, if you look for one. indeed, if you find one at all. according to the u.s. consensus
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bureau, middle-class incomes have declined for 18 years. different parties, different presidents, different majorities in the house and senate. that means that savings for college and retirement are growing at all-time lows. young people are not marrying as early as they want, sometimes due to bad economic prospects. that means families are launching later in life which gives couples fewer years to pay down a mortgage or raise children. perhaps the greatest single source of our economic anxiety, however, is the fear of losing jobs or that their children aren't able to get a job or their grandchildren aren't able to get a good job. it's not just that unemployment -- it's not just the unemployment rate which remains too high at 7.3% as of august, 2013. it's the number of people we all
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know who are working well below their potential because nothing is available that uses their job skills. it's the number of people we know who have given up looking for work or who are working part-time because nothing full-time is available to them. fewer people are working today, fewer people are working today than in 2007, almost four million fewer people are working today than in 2007. and -- but during that time our population has increased, and the number of workers in the working age has increased. just before the recession hit in december, 2007, about 62.7% of working-age population were working. 67.7%. if that same percentage were working today, we would have 154 million jobs.
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but we don't have 154 million. we have 144 million. and only 58.6% of the population is working. so it's declined. in short, we're missing 9.9 million jobs when we compare this economy to the one in 2007. here's another way to look at the job problem. in 2007, we had 363,000 discouraged workers, people who had given up looking for work because they couldn't find a job. but still they had not disappeared from view by the employment service offices. but today we have 866,000. that's an increase of 140% of discouraged workers. here's another barometer of the middle-class difficulties. we have 1.198 million fewer
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full-time jobs today than in december of 2007. however, we have 3,627,000 more part-time jobs. now, this is important how we calculate this. people with part-time jobs, according to the job people at the department of labor, are not counted as unemployed, they're counted as employed though they may want a full-time job, and most do. so our economy is producing part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs. that's been going on for a long time, and it's not acceptable. these jobs often have no health care program or retirement plan. 77% of the jobs that have been created this year are not full-time jobs. and the work force
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participation, the percentage of people who are actually working today, is the lowest since 1975. and that's not acceptable. and these trends have been going on for some time. take a look at median family income. the census bureau published new estimates of household income on tuesday, august 17. they report that the median income of american households is lower than last year, lower than the year before and in fact is lower than any time since 1995, adjusted for inflation. this is a very serious trend, and i would suggest we have done a lot of active things supposedly to make this economy better, but for the benefit -- but it's not benefiting main line american hardworking people. they're struggling out there. let me say that again.
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you have to go back to 1995 to find median household income that is lower than today's household income. even if you take broad measures of income, you get similar results. if we divide all the income in the united states by the population to come up with a per-capita income concept, per-person income is lower today than at any time since 1997. this is an unacceptable trend. it's clear it is not a short-term phenomena. it's now a negative trend for almost 18 years. it isn't continue. while the stock market has reboundedded, corporate -- rebounded, corporate profits have remained strong, that should not and cannot be used to obscure these trends, trends that have accelerated even after we're supposed to be out of the recession of 2007-2008.
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many are concerned that the federal reserve is furthering the national problem with a wealth gap. their quantitative easing has boosted wealth of the investor class but has not benefited the working class as desired. this is not the way our policies should work. people who know what to do with low interest money seem to be coming out ahead, but the people who don't have money, don't have jobs, working part time instead of full time are slipping. and another thing i would note is our civil society today has certain concerns and weaknesses that we have got to talk about. i will talk more about it in a separate speech, but let me give you a few thoughts. few social institutions are more important in helping us through difficult economic times than
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marriage. marriage is disappearing in the bottom 50% of the income distribution. and many people are really staying too long in low-income unemployment situations. it's not healthy. and as -- and as it does too often, the presence of the father in the home is just not there. if you're in the bottom 50% and give birth, there is a greater than 50% chance that the father will not be living with you when the child comes home from the hospital. perhaps as many suggest, our welfare policies are exacerbating these trends. we need to look at that. also worrying is the decline of charitable giving since 2007. like the overall economy, this vital part of our social and economic system has not recovered effectively.
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total charitable living fell in 2008 to $303 billion from $326 billion. but as of the end of 2012, total giving was only $316 billion, still 3% below what it was six years ago. so i would conclude and note that the road we are on is leading to the continued erosion of middle-class civil society. the quality of life for hardworking americans is not improving financially and maybe other ways, too. the continued expansion of the welfare state, a permanent entrenchment of a political class that profits from the growth of government, it's time that we recognize both the disastrous conditions facing working americans and the moral obligation we have to replace government dependency with
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freedom and dignity that comes from work and independence. that's got to be our goal. there are things that can be done to improve these conditions. it's time for us to defend the working americans in their undeniably legitimate concerns about current trends. so i'll talk about that as we go forward as something we need to seriously consider, but we have got to ask ourselves can we bring into our country through an immigration policy more people than we have jobs for? won't that pull down wages and make it harder for people to get work? shouldn't we defend more effectively our workers against unfair trade, competition from around the world? and i think both of those policies are ones i would hope that we could have bipartisan support on, although i'm worried since the immigration bill would increase permanent immigration
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by 50%, would increase guest worker worker people who come and take jobs only by double and all that in addition to the 11 million that would be given legal status here, and i do think our colleagues are correct to say we should do more about trade and have fair competition on the world stage for our workers, and i think we have got to convert more of this welfare spending. the 80-some odd programs that are fundamentally geared to lower income americans, that spend $750 billion -- a year, which is larger than social security, larger than defense, larger than medicare. we need to convert some of that to better use. for example, for every hundred dollars spent on these programs,
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only one dollar goes to job training. shouldn't we focus more on getting our people, our unemployed, our people who need more training trained, ready to move into the work force and take jobs? can we afford to bring in millions of people to take jobs and leave our people on welfare and the unemployment rolls? those are some of the fundamental questions i think we as americans need to be asking, but first and foremost, colleagues, we're not able to deny and to look away from the fact that we have had a slide in the financial well-being of millions of americans and it's been going on for well over a decade. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president? i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business until 2:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there okay? without objection.
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mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, thank you very much. i am honored to have this chance to rise today to speak about an issue which frankly we don't talk about enough here, and i'm joined by my colleague, the senior senator from florida, senator nelson. we appear on the floor today to talk about an issue which i would argue is a clear and present danger to young americans. what is that? you could probably make a long list of things we're concerned about as it relates to young people, but we're here today to talk about bullying and harassment. according to the department of education, nearly one in three students ages 12-18 are affected by bullying and harassment. another study estimates that 60,000 students in the united states of america do not attend school each day, each day because they fear being bullied. but with the advent of text
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messaging and social media, many children find they cannot escape the harassment when they go home at night. it follows them from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep. this problem was brought once again into the national consciousness just in the last couple of days. i'm reading a headline from the "tampa bay times." the headline reads as follows, and is dated september 12 of this year -- "lakeland girl commits suicide after being bullied online." senator nelson will be talking about that, as will i. here's the other headline from the "washington post" about the same -- the same incident, the same case. police: florida girl who committed suicide had been bullied for months by as many as 15 girls. now, i am the father of four daughters, and i remember times
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when my daughters were going through high school -- i have one in high school, one in college, two out of college. i remember one in particular when our daughter was going through high school and instant messaging was one way to communicate. kind of a back and forth between some of the girls in her high school class. she was about, i guess, 15 or 16 at the time. and i remember some of that, but it never rose to the level of any kind of serious harassment. it was something that a lot of families, i'm sure, have experienced. but i was blessed and my wife was blessed that our daughters never were exposed to what this young girl was exposed to. i won't show her picture, but i'm looking at a picture of her right now. her name is rebecca ann sedwick, 12 years old of lakeland, florida. a beautiful girl, subjected to the most horrific kind of harassment and abuse that is
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almost unimaginable that a group of human beings could do this to another person, but unfortunately it happens all too often. i'll ask my -- my colleague from florida because he knows the case better than i and he knows some information about -- about what the news articles would highlight, but i think we all have the same reaction, one of horror, and we're summoned by our conscience to do something about this. we can't just say, as some say, well, this -- you know, there have been -- every generation has faced some kind of harassment, some kind of bullying, so it's just part of growing up. i've heard this argument. the argument is without validity, okay? because no generation prior to
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this generation has had the technological burden where i remember when i was growing up if someone was bullied at school, that was bad enough, but it ended when the school day ended. today that's not possible. if you have determined and vicious people that want to bully another student, because the technology allows that person to be bullied when they leave school, all throughout the night and then throughout the next day, and day after day. so i turn with respect to my colleague to talk a little bit more about this particular case. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, many states such as mine, florida, they have strict bullying policies in place, but we need to go beyond that, and i am going to speak about the
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specifics of this young lady because federal legislation is needed, because as the secretary of education has said, these laws in the states lack consistency and enforcement mechanisms, and it's across the country, and so you get to the tragic case in florida, rebecca ann sedwick. it's a tragic reminder that bullying in the social media is increasing in both method and mercilessness. now, here's a girl with a single mom. she gets subjected to this bullying in class, so her mom takes her out of the school and puts her in another school.
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12-year-old little girl. she then is bullied online, and this occurs for two years. this is what she gets. why are you alive? you should die. you're ugly. can you die, please? and she gets a constant dose of this, not only at school but then in the social media. her mom tried to take away the cell phone that would then have these applications, but when she gets her phone back, she gets a new application and this cyberbullying keeps coming
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through. and so we have before us legislation that would get educators and parents more involved in trying to prevent this kind of thing, but unfortunately congress is crippled by gridlock, and for the last six years has been unable to pass any major education bill that contains this anticyberbullying language, and that's why i would suggest that my colleague would consider that this provision on its own, separate from the broader bill to expedite our response to what has become an increasing problem, and the measure would require elementary and secondary schools to better address bullying and harassment. it calls on schools to report incidents of bullying to parents and others so that we can try
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and prevent such conduct in the future. i have asked the leadership, as has been my colleague, the leadership of the committee, to consider that they consider expediting this passage because of the national attention to this tragic incident in florida, and i can tell you it's all over florida. i want to thank senator casey for his sponsorship and continuing leadership on this issue. over the last two congresses, along with senator kirk. he and senator kirk have introduced the safe schools improvement act, which is included in the broader reauthorization of no child left behind legislation, and if we could then focus on this specific issue -- and the
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broader bill is not going to pass -- to get this out in the midst of this enormous personal tragedy. now, i just can't understand when for two years this has happened to a young child, her mom is doing everything possible , even pulling her out of one school and putting her in another, and yet it continues. and it drives this young lady to go into an abandoned cement plant and take her life because she doesn't think her life is worth living as a result of all of these taunts. thank you for your leadership, senator casey. let's see if we can move it. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: i want to commend senator nelson for his leadership on this and for bringing this -- this horrific
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example to the attention of the senate, at least on the floor, even though many had seen the news coverage. and i want to thank him for his leadership in trying to focus on this even if a larger education bill doesn't pass. mr. president, i will just conclude by saying this -- anyone who doubts that this is a problem should read one or more of these articles about this case, but i'm sure we could cite many others. for the record, i'll make part of the record both of these articles i referred to, mr. president, the "tampa bay times" of september 12, that article, as well -- and i will make sure that there is a copy for the record -- and "the washington post" story of the next day, september 13, that i referred to. but i just want to read two lines from both stories. from the tampa bay polk county,,
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sheriff grady judd, says about about -- about rebecca ann sedwick, he says, and i quote -- "she was absolutely terrorized on social media." unquote. that's the sheriff, the law enforcement official who have made a determination about what happened to this girl. and then in "the washington post" story, the -- this is actually the "washington post," but it's associated press, i should protect that. but right in the middle of the story, the associated press says and i quote the case has illustrated once more the ways in which youngsters are using the internet to torment others. in one article, they referred to being terrorized. the other article they referred to someone being tormented. so this is a big problem. and the legislation that i have
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introduced may not have prevented this, but for sure we need legislation where schools at a minimum are required to have a code of conduct which includes bullying and harassment. there is no excuse. by the way, we don't need to wait for a bill to be passed. there is no excuse for a school in the united states of america not to have a code of conduct that specifically prohibits bullying right now, and any school that doesn't have that in place, any school district should be ashamed of themselves as you get to work and get that done. they don't need to wait for a bill from washington to get that done. that's number one. prohibit the conduct, very specifically. number two, states need to collect information and make that information available and report this information to the department of education. but one of the most important features of this to get it right
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is you have got to specifically prohibit bullying that's done by way of electronic communication. so whether or not this bill passed in the near term, there are things schools can do right now, and they have no excuse to wait for a bill. so that's the school's responsibility and the community and the school district. what about other responsibilities? parents have a responsibility. so parents either of the tormenters, the perpetrators of this crime, but even parents who don't have children involved on either end of this, every parent has a responsibility, and i know people don't like to hear that. they don't like public officials telling parents what they should do. frankly, i'm not too concerned about that today. every parent has a responsibility to tell their children not to engage in this kind of conduct. if they don't do that, they're
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not doing their job, and if their child is involved in this kind of bullying, they need to figure out a way to stop their children from doing that. if they don't do that, they're not doing their job. and parents who hear about another child is being bullied, they have a responsibility to tell someone, and the students have a responsibility as well. so we're all responsible here. we cannot say that it's just the school district's problem or just the federal government's problem or just the state's problem or just the parents' problem. we are all responsible when this happens. we all have a responsibility to do something about it because this is unacceptable. this is a -- this is a crime that we should never, ever, ever tolerate, but unfortunately we keep reading the stories, we keep hearing about this, and some people i think are just willing to walk away. we need to do more than just
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talk about legislation. i have got a very good bill. i want to thank senator kirk for making it a bipartisan priority, but we have got to do more than just talk about legislation and pass bills. that's important. but we need to take ownership of this issue as parents and citizens and as americans, and we all have a responsibility. so may it be said years from now, decades from now that because of horrific and disturbing stories like the story from florida where rebecca ann sedwick was pushed and tormented to the point where, according to the news, she -- the news article she committed suicide, let it be said of us that we took the right steps to substantially reduce the likelihood that this kind of story never plays out again.
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mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president,
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there is a lot of concern all over this country about what's going on in washington in terms of the possibility that the united states for the first time in its history pay -- may not pay its debts and what that means to its economy, the world's economy, the international financial system, and there is a great deal of concern about the possibility that on october 1, the united states government may shut down because we have some right-wing extremists in the house who want to, among other things, abolish legislation that was passed four years ago, the affordable care act, and throw some other things in there, but before i get to those issues, i want to talk about the reality of what is going on in the economy today, and what i want to do is something that is not done often
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enough, i think, and that is to ask where some of our right-wing colleagues are really coming from. what are their goals? fine, they want to shut down the government on october 1. okay. okay. they don't want to, for the first time in the history of america, pay our bills. okay. but what else do they want? really, what is this right-wing ideology which has taken over the house? and that is an issue, mr. president, that i think we just do not talk about as much as we should. i want to begin my discussion by looking at the reality of what is going on in the american economy. and why people are so angry and so frustrated that the government is not responding to their needs. and they have every reason to be angry. the census bureau just reported the other day a rather extraordinary fact, a very depressing fact, and that is in
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terms of median family income, what the typical american family right in the middle of our economy is experiencing is that that family made less money last year than it did 24 years ago. 24 years, come and gone, people have worked so hard, and after 24 years, they are now earning less money as a family than they did back in 1989. further, what the census bureau told us is that the typical middle-class family has seen its income go down by more than $5,000 since 1999 after adjusting for inflation. so people are angry in new mexico, they are angry in california, that's why they are angry. they are working hard, their income is going down. the average male worker made $283 less last year than he did
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44 years ago. how is that for progress? less money, last year, male worker than 44 years ago. average female worker earned $1,700 less last year than she did in 2007. going down. record-breaking 46.5 million americans are living in poverty now. we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world at almost 2%. a higher percentage of american kids live in poverty now than was the case in 1965. in other words, we are moving but we are moving in the wrong direction. meanwhile, people on top, the wealthiest people in this country are doing phenomenally well. that's the major point that has to be made over and over again. this is not an earthquake or a tsunami that has hit everybody. we're all in this together.
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everybody is struggling. not the case. wealthiest people doing phenomenally well. last week, we learned that 95% of the new income generated in this country from 2009-2012 went to the top 1%. that is a phenomenal statistic. all of the new income generated, 95% of it went to the wealthiest 1%. earlier this week, "forbes" magazine reported that the wealthiest 400 americans in this country are now worth a record-breaking $2 trillion. you can do the arithmetic. that is just an extraordinary concentration of wealth in this country, that we have not seen since before the great depression. the richest 400 americans now own more wealth than the bottom half of america, over 150 million americans. one family -- and this is not what i have learned in the history books when i was growing up about what america was supposed to be like, but one
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family, walton family, owner of wal-mart, owned more wealth than the bottom 40% of the american people. corporate profits are at an all-time high while wages as a share of the economy are at a record low. wall street, whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior caused this massive economic downturn, well, their c.e.o.'s, their executives are doing phenomenally well. in fact, c.e.o.'s on wall street are on track to make more money this year than they did in 2000, and believe me, they have recovered. they are doing just great while the middle class of this country is disappearing. so that, mr. president, is an overview of the reality facing our country. mid class is disappearing, poverty at an all-time high, people on top doing phenomenally well. now i want to go from that reality to tell you what
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right-wing extremism is really about, and it is much more than shutting down the government, it's much more than not paying the debts that we owe and causing a major financial crisis. mr. president, let me suggest to you what i think you already know, that if you really delve into what some of our colleagues here in the senate but mostly in the house believe, what they believe is to get the -- is forget the affordable care act, that's nickels and dimes. what these guys really are about is repealing every significant piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protect the needs of the middle-class, working families, elderly, kids, lower income people. you name the piece of legislation, they either want to repeal it entirely or they want to make massive cuts in those programs. let me name what those programs
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are -- social security. some of them believe social security is unconstitutional. it's not just they want to cut social security. they don't believe in the concept of social security. same thing with health care on the part of the federal government. medicare, medicaid. why should the federal government be involved in those programs? that's not the federal government's role. let's abolish medicare, abolish medicaid. so if you are 70 years of age and you don't have a lot of money and you don't have any health insurance which medicare provides, well, what happens to you? you tell me, mr. president. what happens if you're 70, you are diagnosed with cancer and you don't have health insurance? everybody knows the end of the story. you die. well, that's the way life goes because we're all in it for ourselves. we don't believe the government should provide returns to all people. so if i'm a multimillionaire and i get sick or my kids get sick, i have got the best health care in the world. but if i'm a struggling
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middle-class person, working class person, lower income, hey, government should not be involved in those areas. minimum wage, you know. many of us believe in the overwhelming majority, the american people believe that the minimum wage today at about about $7.25 an hour, federal minimum wage is too low. i want to applaud the governor and the legislature in california for raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour. right now we're at about $7.25 for the federal government. you know what most of our colleagues believe? it's not that they are opposed to raising the minimum wage. they want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage. that's the fact. the american people don't know that. and what does that mean? it means that if you are living in a high unemployment area where a lot of people are struggling for a few jobs and an employer says well, you know what, the best i can pay you is is $3.50 a that's what i
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can pay you, well, i have to take that. i have to take that. and people think i'm kidding, i am not kidding. a majority of the republicans to the best of my knowledge now believing in abolishing the concept of the minimum wage. environmental protection. we have made some real progress in recent years. not enough, but we have made some progress. go to new york city, air is cleaner. go to california, los angeles, air is cleaner. we have cleaned up a lot of rivers. but we have said to companies you can't just put your crop and your toxins into rivers, into waterways. you can't put it up in the air so that the kids breathe it. we have made some progress on that. some of our republican friends say oh, it's not that we are just opposed to this or that piece of legislation. let's abolish the e.p.a. let's abolish the ability of the american people to protect their health. now, let me just quote
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something, mr. president, and i can quote a lot of sources. quote many of the statements made by some of my colleagues, but i want to go to the platform of the 2012 texas republican party. now, why do i want to go there? because, in fact, texas is a large state. the republican party in texas is very powerful, but also the ideas that come from texas to be fair to the state of texas end up spreading all over this country, especially in republican circles. so i want to read you some of the proposals in the 2012 texas republican party plat fortunately. texas, one of our larger states, controlled by republicans right now. quote -- "we support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts and gradually phasing out the
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social security tax." end of quote. in english, what that means is we believe in the privatization of social security and people, if they have the money, can invest on wall street or do what they want, but that's the texas republican party platform. what else do they say? and i want veterans -- and i speak as chairman of the veterans committee, to listen to this one. quote -- "we support the privatization of veterans' health care." end of quote. in other words, they would abolish the veterans administration. well, we have got some six million veterans today getting pretty good health care at the v.a., and one of the mainstreams of right-wing extremism in this country, the texas republican party, believes that we should abolish the v.a. health care system. furthermore, what they are
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saying is that we support abolishing all federal agencies whose activities are not specifically enumerated in the constitution, including the department of education and the department of energy. goodbye department of education. goodbye federal aid to education title one. and many other important programs that are supporting public education in america. goodbye. we oppose mandatory kindergarten, end of quote. okay. right now, it is widely regarded that the united states has the worst early childhood education system of any major country on earth. people can't find affordable early childhood education, their proposal is to abolish mandatory kindergarten. we believe, and i said this earlier, the environmental protection agency should be abolished. no problem. you're a company, you want to put toxins into the rivers, into the lakes, into the air, go for
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it, because we've got no agency that is going to stop you. quote -- "we recommend repeal of the 16th amendment of the u.s. constitution with the goal of abolishing the i.r.s. and replacing it with a national sales tax collected by the states." in english, what that means is what they want to do is move to regressive taxes, ending all forms of regressive taxation. so they want working people, middle-class people to pay more in taxes while the wealthy pay less. we favor abolishing the capital gains tax and the estate tax, which, of course, falls most heavily on wealthy people. and here's what they say. and i've got to give these guys credit. they're upfront. they put this on paper. "we believe the minimum-wage law should be repealed." so there we go. people in america will now work for three bucks or four bucks an hour if that's what the circumstances require. now, that's -- and i point out,
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as i said earlier, going to the texas republican party platform and i could have gone elsewhere but the ideas that come from them end up filtering among right-wing circles all over america. now, interestingly enough, at a time when the middle class is disappearing and the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well, it is important to hear what the c.e.o.s of the largest -- c.e.o.'s of the largest wall street banks and companies in this country, the business roundtable, have to say on the economy. wall street bailed out by the middle glass this company, corporate america enjoying record-breaking profits. earlier this year, the business roundtable -- again, these are the c.e.o.'s of the major corporations in america. without exception, these guys are making millions of dollars a year in income. they have wonderful retirement packages, health care benefits
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for them and their family. this is what they have to say. they came to washington and they called on congress to raise the eligibility age of social security and medicare to the age of 70. 70. wall street billionaires, c.o.e.'s making huge amounts of -- c.e.o.'s making huge amounts of money, wonderful retirement packages, they now want congress to raise the retirement age of social security and medicare to age 70. 70. they want to cut social security and veterans' benefits, their cola's. they want to raise taxes on working families and, obviously, it goes without saying, cut taxes for the largest corporations in america at a time when one out of four of these corporations doesn't pay a nickel in taxes. that's the background. middle-class collapses; rich getting richer. and then we have a right-wing in
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this country fueled by people like the koch brothers and others who are pushing a totally reactionary agenda. now, let's talk about what that immediate agenda looks like in terms of the c.r., continuing resolution, that, in fact -- and this is what's going to pass in the house, as i understand it, that would lock in place sequestration for domestic programs while providing a $20 billion boost to defense spending for the next three months. that's annualized, looking from a year's perspective. now, if we did that for a year, that sequestration level, according to the congressional budget office, sequestration will lead to the loss of 900,000 jobs and cause a .7% drop in the g.d.p. real unemployment today is close to 14% and with sequestration --
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and what sce sequestration for a year would do is result in 90,000 jobs at a time exactly what we don't need it. many of those jobs would actually be government jobs but actually come as no surprise because the extreme right wing really does not believe in the concept of government. so when we lose jobs for a -- at the teaching profession, when we lose police officers and firefighters and construction workers and v.a. nurses and v.a. doctors and scientists or engineers, that is no problem for some of these fellas. mr. president, sequestration, we should be clear, has already, already caused enormous pain for millions of americans. as i mentioned earlier, this country is way behind our global competitors in terms of child care, early childhood education. as a result of sequestration, more than 57,000 kids are losing
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access to head start and early head start programs. at a time when food insecurity is skyrocketing and when millions and millions of parents are wondering how they're going to be able to feed their kids, what the sequestration does is goes -- literally goes after some of the most vulnerable people in this country who are elderly people, low income, living on minimal social security benefits who can't even leave their homes. and they're served right now by the meals on wheels programs. and i want to thank all the meals on wheels volunteers out there for doing a great job and trying to help these seniors. sequestration will continue. major cuts it throwing thousands and thousands of seniors off the meals on wheels program. we have a serious housing crisis in america. sequestration will make it harder for over 100,000 families
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to get a variety of affordable housing programs. everybody knows the cost of a college education is soaring. working-class families can't afford college today and yet sequestration would result in 70,000 college students losing federal work-study grants -- that's the means by which they earn some money to help stay in college. sequestration will result in cutting back on chemotherapy treatments to thousands of cancer patients because of a 2% cut to medicare providers. low income heating assistance program -- very important in the state of vermont, where it gets cold -- massive cuts. long-term unemployment checks -- unemployment remains high -- 10% cut. that will be continued. so that is where we are right now.
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and it gets worse. it gets worse if the boehner c.r. is approved. programs that millions of americans rely on will be cut even further. so everything i told you will get even worse. so, mr. president, i think what we are looking at right now is not just the immediate pain of the continuing resolution or the threat not to pay our debts and destroy the credit rating of the united states of america. that's -- those are enormous realities. but what we are looking at is a real effort to dismember the united states government and wreak havoc on the lives of tens and tens and tens of millions of people.
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and to my mind, what we have got to do is exactly the office what our right-wing friends are suggesting. they are suggesting that we should raise unemployment. they are suggesting that we should cut back on federal funding for infrastructure. i believe that we should be investing -- we should be investing billions and billions of dollars in addressing our crumbling infrastructure, roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, our rail system. and when we do that, we make this country more productive and we create millions of jobs. i believe we have got to invest significantly in energy efficiency and sustainable energy, and when we do, that we not only protect the environment, combat global warming but we also create jobs. i believe that we have to rewrite our disastrous trade
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policies so that american jobs are not our number-one export. i believe that instead of further deregulation of wall street, wall street has got to be effectively regulated so that their greed and recklessness can no longer cause enormous problems for our economy. instead of lowering taxes for the wealthiest people i think it's high time they start paying their fair share of taxes. so what we have here is a great, great debate which goes beyond the continuing resolution, goes beyond the shutdown of the government, it goes beyond whether or not the united states fails to pay its bills for the first time in history. i believe that with we have is an ideology, a right-wing ideology which reflects, at mo most, the views of 15% of the american people. i think that's probably a generous perspective.
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i think the vast majority of the american people do not believe what right-wing extremism is doing and it's high time we began to stand up and say to these people that if you're going to continue those efforts, you may not be back here in the united states congress. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 10 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. today, the house of representatives is voting on legislation dealing with the farm bill and food stamps. recently, this week, the house of representatives broke with 40 years of tradition, precedent, common sense and perhaps human decency when it tbowd partisan politics -- bowed to partisan politics and passed a farm bill without a nutrition title. they did -- they pulled apart what traditionally urban and rural interests have done in this country, coming together to pass a farm bill, connecting it with a nutrition title where it served rural america, it served urban america, it served hungry kids. it was good for hungry kids, it was good for economic development, it was good for conservation and the environment. the house leadership has announced that later today, sometime this afternoon, the house will vote on a bill that
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would cut the supplemental nutrition assistance program, "snap," by nearly $40 billion. they're taking this bill up because of the $20 billion in punitive "snap" cuts that they failed to pass earlier this year wasn't enough for the majority. they don't only cut $20 billion. $20 billion. 20,000 million dollars. $20 billion in cuts when the average family gets $4.45 per day, cutting $20 billion was bad enough. that wasn't good enough for those members of the house of representatives who want to see cuts twice as big. many of those members of the house of representatives, or at least some of them, are people who are -- are farmers themselves who get huge farm subsidies. it -- it begs the issue a little bit -- for some of my colleagues who have seen the movie "lincoln." at one point, president lincoln, listening, but perhaps not entirely hearing his staff, who
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exhorting him to spend more time in the white house, winning the war, freeing the slaves and preserving the union, president lincoln said, i need to go out and get my public opinion back. well, i suggest that maybe more of us, those particularly that are voting to cut "snap," to cut food stamps $40 billion, they may want to go out and listen to what people not dressed like this, not working around here that get good benefits and decental salaries, not highly-paid colleagues and senators, not those they may brunch with on sunday when those members don't go back home, but go out and talk to somebody in labor at a union hall, go out and talk to somebody at a shopping mall, go out and talk to somebody at a school where children -- i heard stories today at my weekly coffee where a woman teaching in columbus told us that her -- a woman whose daughter teaches us in columbus told us when the school brebreakfast -- in the school lh
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program, that she has seen children put some of the food in their pockets so they can take it home for the brothers and sisters or for the weekend or for their mom and dad. so i see in this still difficult economy, when people receive $4,4.had $4.45 per day on average, people in the house want to cut an additional $40 billion. it wasn't enough that 2 billion americans could use "snap" benefits. it wasn't enough that more than 200,000 children could lose access to the free and reduced lunch price program. they can make it harder. they can say whatever they want. they can say -- well, i don't know, do they get addicted to food staches. do they dig food stamps because they don't want to work? well, the fact, is as chairwoman stabenow points out, the chair of the agriculture committee, in the next 10 years, 14 million americans will leave the "snap" program. why is that? if we don't do that. why will 14 million people leave the "sn"


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